Class size seems to be a hot button topic these days, or at least it is in South Carolina. It seems everywhere I turn on Facebook, someone is posting about class sizes being large and how they are only getting more students and how are they supposed to teach a class of 33?
I feel their pain. My classes range in size from 23 to 33 and it’s amazing what you can get done with just 23 kids that you can’t with 33. I’ve heard some politicians say that large class sizes are a good thing for educators.
I laughed out loud at that one.
Let me tell you what goes on in my class of thirty-three students. First of all, you’re looking at thirty-three 11 and 12 year olds. That, right there, is plenty to be starting with. Then, remember that I teach Social Studies so I don’t get an inclusion teacher – ever. But feel free to dump all the IEP and 504 kids in there without one. So in this class of 33 students, I have 6 with IEPs and 504s, and two of them are my most major behavior concerns. Also in this class of 33 students are about 10 ESOL students, one of which barely speaks any English at all. That leaves about nineteen “regular” students and, trust me, they aren’t always regular. They’re chatty and loud and can’t stay on task to save their lives.
Group work in a class of 23? Sure, I can do that. Group work in a class of 33? I’ll give it a shot but I’ll need an extra couple of days to get it done. There’s not enough time or enough of me to help that many students.
For example, I developed a pretty cool note-taking group assignment for the kids (at least I thought it was cool). Instead of listening to me yak, the students used the textbook and other websites to answer guided questions on their own. In fourth period – the class of 33 – they’re still not done. It takes them twice as long.
Now, I’m not saying that classes need to be sizes of 20. I’m just saying that you can’t expect the same kind of student-centered, hands-on learning with a group of 33, especially when you add in the crazies.
It just isn’t possible.
What about you? Does your school have large classes? I’d love to hear any strategies you have about dealing with large classes!! Sound off in the comments.
For now…that’s a wrap.